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Construction Report: DOT upgrading Fairbanks highway barriers to improve safety

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Alaska Department of Transportation is replacing concrete barriers on highways in Fairbanks. Caitlin Frye, the Northern Region Information Officer for the Alaska DOT said that the old barriers have been there for around 30 years.

The DOT is replacing barriers on the Steese highway, Johansen Expressway, and on the Mitchell Expressway and Richardson Highway overpass system. Fry said three of the ramps connecting the Richardson and Mitchell were closed on Monday and one will remain closed on Tuesday. “Drivers who are heading from the Airport Way and Richardson Highway and Steese Highway intersection right there by the Fort Wainwright main gate, if they are traveling that way towards the Mitchell Expressway trying to get on the Mitchell Expressway, you’ll have to detour around because that ramp will still be closed on Tuesday.”

Prior to the project, the DOT tested putting reflectors on the barriers to help drivers see them better during the dark winter nights. Frye said while drivers liked them, the reflectors would get torn off by snowplows.

She said they came up with an improved design to upgrade the barriers. “The new design has basically a pocket, and the reflector strip sits inside of that pocket so it should be able to withstand our plows during the winter and improve safety on the road by improving visibility in the darkness during the winter.”

Frye says there will be lane closures during the project, but Monday and Tuesdays ramp work are the only closures expected. Work on the Steese barriers has been completed, and later in the summer crews will work on the Johansen.

According to Frye, the project is 90% funded by the federal government.

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